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Camp Fire Settlement Update

Camp Fire Settlement Update

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Camp Fire victims at risk of not receiving in full what is owed to them have the right to vote on PG&E’s bankruptcy exit plan by May 15, 2020. We anticipate that by April 17, 2020 you will receive a ballot to vote on the settlement proposal. If you do not receive one by then, please contact us.

We have provided here downloadable links to the Summary of the Proposed Victims’ Trust Fund, the full Disclosure Statement, and Supplemental Statements. The Disclosure Statement is contradictory as to the right to a jury trial if a claimant is not satisfied with the Trustee and Administrator’s offers. We will look into this issue more fully and advise you shortly. Please VOTE. Send us a copy of your ballot when it is completed, if you are able.

Finally, we want to address and respond to a rumor that seems to be making the rounds: “People are talking about we may not end up getting anything in the end of this. I’m trying to find out what is fact and just talk.” This rumor is false. Every victim that is qualified should receive some financial relief from the fund. We at Wisner Baum will work to maximize your compensation.

Thank you and stay healthy!

Our firm created this page to keep our clients as up-to-date as possible on the details of the PG&E Camp Fire settlement. We will update this page regularly with PG&E wildfire settlement news, information, and documents for Camp Fire victims.

On March 20, 2020, PG&E reached a bankruptcy deal with California Governor Gavin Newsom, which pledges billions to wildfire victims and removes a key hurdle for the utility to come out of bankruptcy. As part of the settlement, PG&E agreed to use shareholder funding to reduce its debt load and submit to stronger safety oversight. Failure to make safety enhancements could lead to the state of California taking over the utility. Likewise, if PG&E does not emerge from bankruptcy by June 30, 2020, the utility will be forced to put itself up for sale.

On March 23, 2020, PG&E stated in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter related to the Camp Fire. PG&E also noted in the filing that it pleaded guilty to one count of causing a fire in violation of the state penal code. Under the terms of the deal, prosecutors have agreed not to pursue further criminal charges.

Per the SEC filing:

“The Utility will be sentenced to pay the maximum total fine and penalty of approximately $3.5 million. The Agreement provides that no other or additional sentence will be imposed on the Utility in the criminal action in connection with the 2018 Camp fire…The Utility has also agreed to pay $500,000 to the Butte County District Attorney Environmental and Consumer Protection Fund to reimburse costs spent on the investigation of the 2018 Camp fire.”

Fire Victims Claims Resolution Procedures

The proposed method of dividing the PG&E Camp Fire settlement is now available. It is complicated and leaves many unknowns. Below you will find “Fire Victims Claims Resolution Procedures” and other important documents which you can download and review.

You have already filed a claim form for the court. Next, you will have to fill out a claim questionnaire that the court has approved, which will be evaluated and possibly offers to settle made. While we do not yet have a copy of the claims questionnaire, we expect that it will ask for summaries of all of the information we detail below.

PG&E Fire Settlement | Fire Victims Claims Resolution

These are the categories of loss and proof of loss that the Fire Victims Claims Resolution Procedures (FVCRP) suggest.

Real Property Damages – The loss of value of the property from the day before and after the fire including loss of trees and gardens. The cost of repair or rebuilding.

Proof may include:

  • Verification of ownership
  • Appraisals
  • Tax records
  • Purchase records
  • Mortgage or loan documentation showing the pre-Fire condition or value of the property
  • Pre-Fire and post-Fire photos or videos of the structures (interior or exterior) or other damaged areas of the property
  • Architectural or engineering drawings
  • Permits
  • Contractor rebuild or repair estimates or invoices
  • Arborist reports, timber surveys, or documents relating to landscaping
  • Other supporting documents within the Claimant’s possession

Personal property – This is all your “stuff” including clothing, furniture, electronics, paintings, photographs, sculptures, collections, hygiene products and the entire contents of your residence, garage, barn, outdoors. We are including pets in this category as well. If you lost a pet(s), a photo or two of the pet(s) you lost would enhance this claim.

Proof may include:

  • List of items destroyed or damaged in the residence (you can recycle the insurance list that you made; with the added things you may have forgotten)
  • Proofs of purchase
  • Pre-fire and post-fire photos
  • Appraisals
  • Other supporting documents within the Claimant’s possession (for the Camp Fire, we will get affidavits for you and those who are familiar with your contents to complete, if necessary)

Personal income loss – If you were out of work or lost a job, this is the category to place that loss. This includes lost rental income.

Proof may include:

  • Tax returns, including all schedules and attachments
  • W-2 Forms
  • 1099 Forms
  • Lease agreements or canceled rent checks
  • Bank account statements identifying earnings
  • Paycheck stubs or payroll records
  • Other supporting documents within your possession

Business income loss

Proof may include:

  • Description of the business, including its mission statement; (a video or audio recording is good)
  • Tax returns, including all schedules or attachments
  • Financial statements, including profit and loss statements
  • Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, shareholder lists, or partnership or limited partnership agreements
  • Leases, deeds, titles, or other documents identifying the property owned or occupied by the business
  • Canceled contracts
  • Photos, videos, or other documentary evidence of fire damage to your home or business
  • Other supporting documents within your possession

Other out-of-pocket expenses – This is for living and moving expenses, medical, counseling, and other expenses not accounted for in the other categories.

Proof may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Rental bills
  • Canceled checks
  • Any other proof of expenses paid or incurred that you may have

Serious personal injury – For many, this will be the most difficult category (along with emotional distress). If you signed authorizations, we are obtaining your medical records. If you have sought medical treatment and have medical records and bills, and we have not previously asked you for an authorization to obtain them, please get in touch with us.

Emotional Distress – This contemplates the fear, anxiety, and emotional suffering you and your family experienced during your escape from the fire.

As noted above, the questionnaire has not yet been approved by the court. The specifics may be modified in some respects, but this is what we anticipate.

There is an appeals process and right-to-jury-trial under certain circumstances. We will consult with you as to the adequacy of the response to your proof of claim, and rights going forward after the response. Your proof of claim is very important as it will be the foundation for your monetary recovery, so we urge you to provide as much information now as you can.

There will be a court-approved trust established through which the settlement funds will be distributed once a final settlement of your claim is reached. NO ONE WILL BE PAID IN STOCK—all settlements will be paid in cash.

If you would like more information, this page contains a helpful Q&A for fire victims. Alternatively, you can always contact us by emailing or calling your paralegal, Janet. We are happy to help.

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